With the fall season upon us and our favorite spooky holiday around the corner, we’re here to introduce Christina O, owner, and designer of Agashi! A handmade collection, the Agashi style focuses on modern gothic apparel & accessories; intended for those who love to celebrate Halloween every day of the year. Join us this month as we get to discover the history of how Agashi came to be and how Christina found her passion for fashion and running her shop.
From a young age, Christina became obsessed with sewing and crafting. From creating outfits that her Barbie dolls could wear to upcycling projects on her mother’s old Kenmore, Christina would constantly find a way to work on her craft. Then, with dreams of leaving her small town after high school to become a fashion designer, she focused on what she would need to do to achieve her goals.
Coming from a family where becoming a fashion designer seemed more like a faraway dream than reality, Christina was prepared to do everything it took. Evaluating her options, she entered her community college before transferring to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for their fashion merchandising program. While her path to becoming a fashion designer changed for Christina and may have been different than she planned, her dream is still happening!
“It wasn’t going to happen easily for someone like me, and I was prepared to do whatever it took. Not having many resources will force you to become resourceful.”
While Christina admits she would’ve chosen the path of the self-taught designer over school, her hard work was beginning to pay off. After college, her downtime was focused on sewing and creating. However, after trying her hand at creating accessories for her shop, she soon realized apparel was her favorite project to focus on. By Halloween of 2010, she was able to move to Philadelphia, where she ended up meeting her future husband, Paul.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Christina launched her current fashion brand Agashi! With only $50 worth of material, she was able to put together a few harnesses and kawaii-style dresses for the first few months of her shop opening. Over the next couple of years, Christina would go on to add theatrical crinoline pieces and obtain some of her first custom-order customers, burlesque performers! This success was a step in the right direction, leading to her career change in 2015, where she could quit her day job and place all her focus on her brand.
It was in 2017 when Christina and Paul moved into their first home in Philadelphia. Agashi began growing faster than ever, surpassing their home space and pushing Christina to open up her first official studio space in 2018, including shop assistants. While the shop continued to see great success over the next couple of years, 2020 brought the shop to a slow down, causing Agashi to be brought back home after closing the studio due to the pandemic.
Due to Christina’s passion for the business, Agashi is still live and running! She also launched her first YouTube channel for sewing, DIY, and Behind the Seams content during the summer of 2020, creating a new connection to her community of followers and new sewists. During this time, she began modeling a new path for her business, one where her passion for creating fashion and teaching sewing skills could intermix. Now, Agashi offers smaller quantities of made-to-order wear at faster turnaround times, allowing Christina to slow down and push her passion for teaching into the mix.
One focus about Agashi that never changed was sustainable fashion. While she acknowledges that not everyone has the financial ability to only buy made-to-order, Christina sees sustainable fashion as “buying with a purpose and purging clothes slower.” To avoid over-production, Christina focuses on creating made-to-order pieces and upcycles 90% of her fabric scrap pieces when sewing.
“My entire process is slow, intimate, and intentional. I’m grateful to have customers who invest in my custom pieces. They aren’t ordering for instant gratification, but rather an affordable luxury item they can cherish.”
Avoiding offers from manufacturers, the quality of her work and products is what Christina focuses on when creating her apparel. With each project feeling personal, she continues to place a lot of thought, time, and labor into each stitch of her pieces. Her dedication and message seep into her packaging with a handwritten thank you note, sustainable packaging, and self-sewn reusable gift bags.
While the shop’s plans for sales may have changed, her fashion design hasn’t! Those lovers of the gothic aesthetic and Halloween can find a piece they’ll love in Christina’s shop. Christina was inspired by cinema with darker themes like Addams Family Values, The Dark Crystal, and The Return to Oz. She found herself naturally drawn to the characters portrayed, connecting to the “weirdos” of the films. As someone who grew up having trouble making friends, finding a connection in these films inspired her to design fashion for grown-up sizes. With a variety of minimal designs, horror lovers like herself can easily wear fashion with spider webs and bat wings, celebrating their gothic ways!
Her style inspiration can also be pinpointed to vintage lingerie catalogs and old runway shots from McQueen, Mugler, and Gaultier. Victorian and Rococo fashion inspire Christina heavily over today’s fashion, feeling that the style now is only a repetition of the past.
“Agashi is for anyone who celebrates Halloween once a year or every day.”
It’s this niche design and theme that brings attention to Christina’s shop, where lovers of all Goth and horror can find fashion pieces that fit within the modern world. Thanks to social media, Christina has been able to build a community of over 100 thousand followers that have followed along the journey to where the business is today. Whether they’ve followed because they found interest in the shop, or her recent videos showcasing tips and tricks to sewing, she’s been able to utilize these platforms to grow her business and expand her brand awareness.
As a business owner focused on social media for branding, she consistently posted content multiple times a week that revolved around her work and brand aesthetic. With Instagram being her platform, she’s focused on showcasing her work and her as a creator and behind-the-scenes looks. Focusing on building that connection between her customers and art is one of the reasons she’s been successful, with social media allowing her to connect with other creators, customers, and sewists.
While today’s social media can be more brutal to gain popularity on, Christina’s advice is to diversify your social media presence and focus on platforms that will help build your community. She recommends focusing on video content that’s popular right now and seeing how you can share behind the scene looks or process videos, as viewers will always love feeling like they can relate to you! Sites like Tiktok and YouTube are her favorites. This is thanks to their ease to use and the sewing communities that have been built.
Her new focus on sewing tutorials and tips is an excellent passion for Christina. When asked about her current sewing machine choices and what she would recommend for a new sewist, she reminded us that finding the perfect machine is just like dating!
“You want to know what you’re looking for and find the best machine to match your sewing needs and goals. And yes, just like dating, you will be disappointed with some machines.”
Her first tip for new sewists is to find a second-hand or vintage machine. Focusing on budget-friendly when entering a new hobby will allow you to get a taste of the craft while letting you hone your skills. A few basics, like a straight & zigzag stitch and a buttonhole feature, are perfect when starting off. Once you feel more comfortable or your skills begin outgrowing your machine, you can start focusing on upgrading and buying the suitable machine for you. For Christina, this answer comes in a rotation of 3 domestic sewing machines, 4 sergers, and 1 coverstitch machine, one being her trusty TL-2000Qi!
It was in August 2020 when she searched for a “straight stitching beast,” focusing on the features wishlist, the budget, and the space, she chose the TL-2000Qi. Looking for industrial power that would fit her studio space, Christina loves its power and the finished quality of her projects when she creates on it, using it for her final seams on every order. Her dream goal? All industrial JUKI machines!
Beyond her tips and tricks for sewing, Christina also has advice for sewists out there who plan to open their small businesses. “Always invest in yourself and learn from your mistakes,” she says, encouraging those out there to keep investing in their passion and to never stop learning. While Christina earned a degree in Fashion Merchandising, she still acclaims herself as a self-taught sewist and designer. She encourages you to find your best path, whether it be fashion school or self-taught, and to learn at your own pace to enjoy the journey.
Focus on building relationships with those in your community, and choose it over the competition. Christina focuses on finding her own identity and experiments by not comparing herself to others. Because of this, she’s been able to plan the new future for Agashi. With a new effort to prioritize her mental health, Agashi will begin scaling down on made-to-order apparel and start focusing on teaching sewing next year. This will include DIY sewing kits for clothing and accessories and focus on those who don’t have many resources to learn sewing beside the internet.
“There is plenty of space for everyone to succeed together.”
Grateful to the community she’s been able to build and proud of how the brand has grown and evolved over the years, Christina and her brand Agashi will continue to flourish in the fashion industry! We can’t wait to see the new changes soon to come, and we’re excited to learn alongside her followers! If you love Halloween or want to learn new sewing tips and tricks, join us in following Christina’s journey below and wishing her a Happy Halloween!
Find Agashi and Christina below!
Etsy (Paper Bats)